Hizzoner Buddy "Vincent A." Cianci went down for racketeering conspiracy (one count out of 30, five years, four months, and $100,000) in September 2002, resigning in some form of disgrace for the second time in his decades-long career as mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. (The first time was when he got five years for assaulting his wife's lover with random household objects and a lit cigarette; on his emergence from prison, he was promptly re-elected.) Cianci has always been a flamboyant folk hero in the vein of James Michael Curley and Richard Joseph Daley, winning landslide elections again and again thanks to a combination of charm, political muscle, and highly visible public improvement projects while raking in the bribes for public works contracts behind the scenes.
As he walks the fine line between corrupt enough to keep his personal and campaign purses full and corrupt enough to upset the voters, Cianci knows that the little things matter a lot. He's great at getting his name attached to good things, and he doesn't shy away from actually doing good in order to do so. One example: he sells Mayor's Own Marinara Sauce, made from an old family recipe, in local grocery stores and donates all the profits to the Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. Scholarship Fund for poorish smart kids who would otherwise fall through the Pell grant cracks. When I used the sauce in lasagna and on spaghetti, I found it well spiced and pleasantly light, winning my vote in the next election he manages to make it to. (Except I'll probably have moved elsewhere by the time he gets out of Federal prison. Oh well.)
The Projo can take a lot of the credit for hounding Buddy out of office last year. They even gave their anti-Cianci campaign its own catchy name: Operation Plunder Dome. (Because, see, the mayor plunders stuff, right, and he works in City Hall, which, well, doesn't have a dome, but, um, it's near the State House, see, and the State House has a dome, or something.) I suppose they're kinda like the Washington Post taking down Nixon, except Nixon didn't fill the country with public art, create a tax-free zone for artists, and turn a buried river into a beautiful downtown park. Sigh. Well, at least they nailed the man responsible for all the signs downtown that spell "downtown" D-O-W-N-C-I-T-Y.
As mentioned in the writeup for Providence, Rhode Island, the Andre the Giant Has A Posse thing started here. Of course, now there are "Buddy" the Giant Has A Posse stickers scattered here and there, too.
Before they took him away this time around, he lived alone in a suite in the Biltmore Hotel, and any jerk off the street could just walk into the bar and have a chat with him if he wasn't too busy mackin' on the chicks. I regret to say that I never did that, despite living just a few blocks away for the past year or so. He's a fascinating and complex man, and the city is the poorer without him.
(I'm willing to believe that City Hall has a dome stashed away somewhere, but the only dome of any prominence in Providence is on the State House. The State House, of course, is otherwise completely unremarkable, and it might as well be empty for all you hear about Rhode Island politics that isn't Buddy.
"Vincent A." bit ripped off from Phillip & Jorge's
Cool, Cool World column in the Providence Phoenix. Blame them, not me.)